The Various Roads to Safer Roads

Our world’s fascination and dependence on automotive travel date back over a century and during that time there have been many technical advancements which have contributed to the continued improvement of safety in our vehicles and roads.  Windshield wipers, turn signals, anti lock brake systems, seat belts and air bags to name a few.  These were welcome additions, but a few of them were initially viewed by some manufacturers and drivers as unnecessary and costly infringements.

Today, two concerns that continue to dominant the discussion regarding road safety are impaired and distracted drivers.  What is technology doing to help solve these problems that cost us an enormous price in personal tragedy and financial loss?   

Here are three developments that may or may not be coming soon to a car dealership near you:

  1. Vehicles that are equipped with alcohol detection systems. Currently, we have a system where those convicted of driving with alcohol readings above the legal limit are given incentives to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, allowing them to return to driving sooner than otherwise permitted. The driver must blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle and at various times while driving.  Research and development efforts are current being made towards a better and less intrusive alcohol detection system, one that is passive and virtually unnoticeable, featuring breath and touch-based sensors designed to monitor a driver’s blood alcohol level in real time, without requiring the driver to do anything.
  2. Vehicles with technology and equipment that blocks mobile phone signals so that calls and messages cannot be made or sent while driving.  This objective may also be achieved through other technological advancements within smart phones themselves or through the use of apps that allow users to set their devices in ways that limit or disable usage while driving, but if cell phone disabling technology was a mandatory feature in all vehicles, there would not be this same element of choice as there is when it’s a feature on the phone.

    Would you purchase vehicles that had these devices?  Would you pay more for them?  Would you support lawmakers who wanted it to make them mandatory in all vehicles?
  3. These two considerations may one day be irrelevant with the ongoing development and advancement of smart, self driving vehicles. While these cars are currently available in limited “computer assisted” form, we are not yet near the vision of a fully driver-less car: sit back, have a drink, open up your lap top and let your smart car get you to your destination.  Concerns that the required technology is not nearly there yet, potential hacking (the Russians have taken over our roadways!), and the impossibility of absolute guaranteed safety (we can accept human error causing accidents but how do we feel about driver less cars occasionally out of control on highways at high speeds due to computer glitches?) are some of the reasons which suggest we still have a long way to go.

One way or another, questions that kids asked their grandparents in the past – “You drove without windshield wipers?  Without seatbelts?” –  may sound much different in the coming years – “You could actually be drunk, talking on your phone and your car would still start?   You actually drove your own car?  How?”

This article has been prepared for and posted by The Law Firm of Ted Yoannou. While we make every effort to post useful and factual information, the material found here should not be interpreted as legal advice. Please contact us if you wish to review your own individual circumstances,, 416‑486‑2200.

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